On The Process

I have been immersed in the writing process for the last few weeks.  Not only have I been focusing on the process to take for writing my book, but also on the process for writing effective essays in my summer class.  Talking and thinking through these different processes has been so very overwhelming, but also so very helpful.

I think I have mentioned before that I have been following the “90 Days to a Novel” plan that I got from a workshop of the same name at PPWC.  In this plan, the first 30 days are spent planning.  I have been planning, and planning, and planning for the past month.  Since the spring semester ended I have been focused solely on developing my own thoughts and ideas when it comes to the book.  I have been planning characters, developing plot, establishing setting, figuring out themes, and listing out the crucial scenes that are needed to write the book.  At first I was dismayed to be spending such a large amount of time on planning and not actually writing the book.  I’ve come to learn, though, how important this planning stage is to successfully writing a book!  Without these 30 days of planning, I’m not sure I would be able to start and then finish the novel.  I am realizing that my lack of planning – in the past I have skipped right over the planning step of the process – is what has kept me from doing the actual writing.  In the past I didn’t know where I was going with the story, and that is what stopped me from getting anywhere at all.

One of the most useful planning aspects I got from the “90 Days to a Novel” workshop is the concept of writing an entire synopsis for the book before even writing it.  That has hands down been the most beneficial thing that I have done during the planning process.  It helped me work out some of the kinks in my story, and I now know how certain characters play into the plot, who the antagonist is, and how the story ends.  I even wrote a miniature version of the closing scene in the synopsis.  It is a wonderful feeling having really worked out the kinks in at least the basic structure of the novel.  Now I just need to get to the writing of it.

The second month of the “90 Days to a Novel” plan is spent doing the actual writing.  In order to get to the correct word count needed for a full length book, this requires writing somewhere in the range of 2,500 words a day.  Although I am following this plan, I am adapting it and lengthening the process a little bit.  My goal is 1,000 words a day.  My 30 days of writing the actual words of the novel have started.  They started in July, and I am already a couple days off (my July started with a little mini vacation where writing was basically impossible) but I am ready to kick this novel in the butt.  It’s going to get started and it’s going to get finished, starting now.  After finishing up this post I am going to move on to my novel document and begin writing there.  

The process is still ongoing, but I am ready for the next step.

On Planning

Finals week is quickly approaching, and I am so ready to be done with this semester.  This semester has been one of the hardest semesters I have had so far for many reasons.  This whole academic year, actually, has just been hard.  It’s always interesting to look back on the year, though, because more often then not, lots of wonderful things can come from a bad year.  That is most certainly the case for me this year.  Is the year really a ‘bad’ year then?

Regardless of the year’s merit, I am glad to almost have my junior year behind me and to move on to the summer.  I will be taking summer classes, which I am not particularly looking forward to (but they are necessary in order for me to graduate in a year, so there’s that) but something I am looking forward to is writing more.  A break from academic writing means more creative writing, which I am very excited about!

Because of the impending break from school and the upcoming opportunity to write more, I have been focusing a lot of my energy on planning the book.  Yes, it has been started, but I’m kind of thinking about scrapping what I have thus far and starting over.  That is the greatest temptation in a writer’s life, I feel – to scrap everything and begin again.  Actually, it pains me thinking about it, but at the same time it’s refreshing.  A new beginning for the books means, in a sense, a new beginning for me. There are many reasons I want to start over with what I have, and they mostly have to do with all of this planning I mentioned.

It all started in my American Literature class.  I know I just said that I am ready to be done with the semester, but one of the good things about being an English Literature student is the fact that my classes can inform my writing.  In this case, my class did just that.  We have been studying Sister Carrie, a novel by Theodore Dreiser from the late 19th century.  Although the book has not grabbed my interest, to say the least, it has given me some inspiration.  The book is a naturalist book, which essentially has to do with the way the characters are shaped by outside forces.  Sometimes these forces have to do with nature itself, and somethings they are more abstract.  For the main character in the book, Carrie, the forces are more abstract – the big city, money, power, and fame.  For Cassie (the main character in my book and coincidentally very similar in name to the main character in Dreiser’s), these forces are going to be abstract as well.  Some of them will be the same (money and power) some of them will be different (heritage, family, and legacy).  Having fleshed out some of these forces and the role that they will be playing in my story, I can then figure out the way that Cassie will be influenced by these forces and the way that she will, at least in some cases, overcome these forces.

I guess this was a really long way of saying that I am very excited to have finally begun coming up with some concrete details about my story.  Unfortunately, they don’t quite  fit with the voice and feel that I have going on in the book right now, so I am most likely going to start over.  It’s really only logical, since I began this book almost two years ago and have learned a lot about writing since then.  Cassie needs to grow up, just like my own writing has.  That is why I will be starting over.

And I couldn’t be happier about it.